A high-performance lifestyle is built around purposeful action.
It’s Robert Greene’s concept of a life task at the forefront of what we do everyday.
It is what Angela Duckworth talks about when she describes passion and perseverance.
When Jocko demands discipline, it is for the singular purpose of becoming better in some way.
Our goal is to advance, to rise above, and to exceed the expectations we have placed on ourselves.
It is the pursuit of high-performance that propels us. When the chance to ease up comes along, when the path of least resistance is revealed, it is the vision of our best selves, it is our desire to become the best that keeps us moving forward.
Desire is what Napoleon Hill described as the starting point of all achievement.
The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat. – Napoleon Hill
If you desire high-performance, reshape your lifestyle to meet this demand.
The following reading list will form an unbreakable foundation of what we like to call the MCD Universe: Mindset. Character. Discipline.
You cannot have one without the other and the character of a great man is built on mindset and discipline.
Get an old fashioned paperback of each copy on Amazon and then prepare to make it your own. Take notes, fill up the margins with great ideas, and then take action on what you are reading. Reading and learning is unmatched, but action will always be king.
Action is king. – HPX Lifestyle
MINDSET: Empowering Belief
1. Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck. The foundational study on mindset and a must-read for anyone on the move. A growth mindset is simply an approach to life, where you believe in your ability to learn, develop and grow into anything or anyone you want to become.
The only belief that matters is that you can grow and get better. – Tom Bilyeu
2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. A combination of passion and perseverance, Grit is a critical aspect of living a high-performance lifestyle. Passion is where you find your outlet to perform. A life’s task, driving desire, obsession, something that pushes you towards your best self. Perseverance is sticking with it, embracing the mundanity of daily habits, and repeating for the long-term. Grit is a mindset, but it encapsulates the forging of character through discipline. The journey from common to uncommon begins with grit.
Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare. – Angela Duckworth
3. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. This was one of the first books that I’ve ever read to really impact the way I think. There is a certain magic in being audacious, in going after those goals you felt were out of reach. When you start thinking big, a world of possibilities come to bear. Everything you ever wanted starts here.
It’s fun to feel yourself growing more confident, more effective,more successful day-by-day, month-by-month. Nothing- absolutely nothing- in this life gives you more satisfaction than knowing you’re on the road to success and achievement. And nothing stands a bigger challenge than making the most of yourself. – David Schwartz
Note: This recommendation came from Tim Ferris, one of the most influential voices in the space of optimizing performance and lifestyle design. His book is not on this list, but it has positively impacted almost every aspect of how I approach my daily, weekly, and yearly goals. As a bonus recommendation, I highly suggest you check out the 4-Hour Work Week.
4. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. This book single-handedly changed the way I think about talent, skill, and hard work and is often the one book I recommend the most because of how deeply it reveals the path to success. Many of us believe in the talent myth, the idea you either “have it or you don’t” and we too often elevate those that appear to possess innate talent. However, what is often not seen is the hours upon hours of grueling work that has led to the expression of the talent you are witnessing. This book was the first in a long-line of “talent busters” that reveal the secret power of deliberate practice, a kind of grueling practice that is just beyond one’s current level of ability, scripted, and cognitively demanding. The best in the world embrace this type of practice as the key to sustained improvement.
More on deliberate practice: once I finished Talent is Overrated, I dived deep into a series of other books that all describe deliberate practice in some way, to include Malcolm Gladwell’s coining of the 10,000 Rule: Outliers, The Talent Code, Bounce, Moonwalking with Einstein, The Art of Work, and concluding with Peak, written by the original researcher who developed the concept.
Whenever someone says that you can develop world-class skill and ability, they are talking about deliberate practice. – Chief
5. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. What stands in the way becomes the way, a quote from the philosopher king Marcus Aurelius, a proponent for the Stoic way of life. Holiday is a very pragmatic writer that takes lessons that have withstood the test of time and reapplies them to today’s challenges. The lessons taken from Stoic Philosophy, written 2,000 years ago, sound strikingly familiar. They are the same problems that we all face, just amplified by the age of information. The solution is also the same, we must be vigilant in how we develop and protect our character, the person we are and the person we are becoming.
It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable. – Seneca
DISCIPLINE: The Art of Doing
6. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The slight edge introduces the concept of compounding interest. A small sum that is applied daily over time. It’s just as applicable to building capital as it is to building trust. It is both artistic expression and scientific fact — doing something small everyday compounds into something big. The small daily amount is what Olson refers to as the slight edge.
Three other books on this idea: The Compound Effect, Tiny Habits, and Atomic Habits.
Habit is either the best of servants, or the worst of masters.- Nathanael Emmons.
7. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The classic narrative on the daily struggles of the creative. It is a story about the process of overcoming the inner demons that keeps you paralyzed, fearful, and unable to create. Pressfield brings this resistance to life and then he gives you the tools to overcome it. The war of art is a war against oneself, you are the enemy but you are also the hero. Persist to become your true self, your best self.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is highly recommended by Joe Rogan and perhaps the most frequently mentioned book on the JRE Podcast. Rogan has been giving copies of the book to comedians, friends and podcast guests for years. The War of Art is about overcoming the obstacles to creativity which Pressfield calls ‘Resistance’. The book helps you identify these internal barriers to success, provides a plan to conquer Resistance and inspires you to get shit done. It’s the type of book you’ll want to highlight and bookmark to re-read specific sections. – JRE Library
CHARACTER: The Act of Becoming
8. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Arguably the most influential book of the century, Frankl’s retelling of life in a Nazi prison camp uncovers the secret to living a fulfilled life: you get to choose how you cope with suffering. Those that abandon hope or rely on external sources for gratification will suffer the most. Those that find joy in what they are doing, in choosing their inner attitudes to external circumstances will find purpose wherever they may be and under even the most dire of circumstances. When all else is lost, it is the last of the human freedoms.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. – Victor Frankl
9. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. This is a story of one man’s extraordinary transformation. Goggins’ endured a hellish childhood and grew to become obese, sedentary, with almost zero indications of him becoming the person he is today: Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and iconic endurance athlete capable of 100 mile runs and thousands of pull-ups. He did this by creating an alter ego, transforming from David Goggins to Goggins. Goggins’ has no easy days. He is forever chasing his demons, never satisfied, and constantly aware of what happens when you let even one moment of comfort creep into your life.
Our culture has become hooked on the quick-fix, the life hack, efficiency. Everyone is on the hunt for that simple action algorithm that nets maximum profit with the least amount of effort. There’s no denying this attitude may get you some of the trappings of success, if you’re lucky, but it will not lead to a calloused mind or self-mastery. If you want to master the mind and remove your governor, you’ll have to become addicted to hard work. Because passion and obsession, even talent, are only useful tools if you have the work ethic to back them up. – David Goggins
10. Mastery by Robert Greene. Mastery, according to Greene, is a greater command of reality, other people, and ourselves. Masters have risen to a higher level of consciousness, they see more, know more, and do more. Master’s live in a heightened state of awareness, perpetually in a state of “flow,” they move fluidly through time and space. The ultimate goal of any high achiever, goal setter, and knowledge chaser is to obtain this type of command. To become a master in one’s field is truly a life accomplishment. However, rarely do we set out to become a master. Rarely do we aim to gain a command of reality. Instead, we aim for tangible things that we can hold, or titles we can proclaim.
Read More: A Glimpse Into Mastery
The act of becoming is a quest towards mastery. Every single day, we get a little bit closer. We become slightly more aware, we understand a tiny bit more, we ask one more question, we get one more answer, we read one more page, we write one more line, we hammer one more nail, we lay one more brick, we fail one more time, and we improve one more percent. Our call to adventure is our life’s task, the key to developing our character — the person we are meant to become.
The key to high-level achievement in any field is to connect with what I call the Life’s Task, our vocation, what we are meant to do in this short time we have to live. We all experience in early childhood an attraction to certain activities, what I call primal inclinations. This could be physical activities (sports), games of strategy (chess, etc.), visual patterns or mathematics, music, words, and so on. These are indications of what is unique about us. This uniqueness can be expressed by our interest in several things that we want to combine. Most of us lose touch with these inclinations as we get older. We listen more and more to parents; we enter career paths that seem cool or lucrative. Masters stand out by their ability to stay true to their earliest inclinations; they have an exceptional connection to what they were meant to do in life. – Robert Greene
A life of high-performance is a life of mastery. The desire to continually improve is not sustainable without this connection to the unseen.
We forge our character in the pursuit of mastery; it is the act of becoming. – Chief
The road to becoming the person you are meant to be will be filled with challenges, many external but mostly internal. We will struggle to find what works best for us and we will be burdened by the weight of mediocrity that surrounds us. We will be inclined to play it safe and to conform to a prescribed path. Rarely, if ever, will we have the power to stand strong, steadfast, and undeterred. And only if we do, will we ever rise to become the person we are meant to be.
I conclude with a quote by Miyamoto Musashi, the undefeated legendary samurai who dedicated his life to mastering the sword:
If you know the way broadly, you will see it in everything.
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